As we draw the curtain on 2020, I wish to thank God for how far He has brought us as a business and as a nation; especially during the challenging periods of the COVI-19 pandemic and the general elections held this month. I also appreciate your commitment and dedication to work in this difficult year and thank God for your lives.
The end of a year is a good time to look back, reflecting on achievements and challenges, and to look forward to see what we still need to accomplish.
There have been landmark events in the history of the world that caused major paradigm shift in the way the world conducted its affairs. The first and second world wars, the cold war, the collapse of the British Empire, the 11th September attacks on the World Trade Centre in the US among others are examples of events that reshaped the world.
The year 2020 is certainly going down in the annals of world history as one of the most difficult years the world has endured as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. When we devised our strategies and rolled up our sleeves at the beginning of 2020 to achieve greater success for GLICO, who would have thought that three months into the year a pandemic would ravage the world and turn everything upside down.
It all seemed gloom and doom when COVID-19 struck. It appeared a number of companies were not prepared for the uncertainties and adverse effects a pandemic, such as COVID-19, would have on their business operations. But history has shown us that in the midst of adversities, the human spirit rises to the challenge and people and businesses resort to innovative ways to circumvent or overcome the tests they face. GLICO not being an exception.
When the pandemic reached our shores in the first quarter of the year, our major priorities were to protect our precious employees and their families against COVID-19 infections and to ensure the continuity of our business in anticipation of the worse case scenario. Buoyed by our determination and resilience, we put in place a number of health and safety protocols with one purpose, which was, to protect employees and customers. These protocols, such as the wearing of nose masks, social distancing, washing and sanitizing of hands among others, remain in effect across the Companies and will likely be part of how we operate for a long time to come.
As we approach the end of the year, we can also look back and come to the realization that it has not been all gloomy about the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects of the pandemic has brought about some innovative business operations, notably, providing social distancing services to policyholders.
GLICO Life provided a Free COVID-19 Hospitalization Cash Income for all its policyholders. This was our way of showing empathy to our policyholders who may be affected by COVID-19 and letting all policyholders know that we were in this situation together and GLICO cared for them.
All the subsidiary companies of GLICO have their own Business Continuity Plans but these plans had never been fully activated. COVID-19 afforded us the opportunity to fully activate the Plans and further strengthen them to provide offsite services to our numerous policyholders.
The effective accelerated launch of our digital capabilities including: digital claims payment; virtual call centres; online and mobile self-service portal among others has boosted our confidence in delivering on our promises whether there is sunshine or rainfall. It has changed our business model and accelerated our quest to lean more on digital service delivery to our policyholders.
Significantly, GLICO Healthcare introduced an innovative way of servicing its customers called ‘E-Medicine’. With patients not being able to go to the various health centres for treatment during and after the lockdown, a number of patients reluctant to frequent the health centres due to the fear of getting infected with COVID-19, the company was able to bring the healthcare ecosystem online and on air, by way of telephone, to enable its customers get service in the comfort of their homes.
Customers could call our hotlines to book appointments with doctors, both General Practitioners and Specialists; have their laboratory tests done at home, if required; and subsequently prescribed drugs delivered to them all in the comfort of their homes. The team of doctors and paramedics at the company subsequently made regular calls to check on the conditions of the patients.
This unique service innovation has come to stay, ‘thanks’ to COVID-19.
The shift to digital service delivery as a form of response to the COVID-19 pandemic should result in an increased efficiency and excess manpower that could be redeployed for greater efficiency and productivity.
In 2021, I am expecting some staff to be redeployed to the sales departments of the companies to boost production and service policyholders. This definitely should be regarded as a positive side of the COVID-19 pandemic brought to bear on our companies’ operations.
Before the outbreak of the pandemic, meetings with policyholders, brokers, partners, and others were all held face-to-face. To attend these meetings, one had to spend productive hours driving through heavy vehicular traffic to hold these meetings and return to the office wasting additional hours in traffic or on the road.
COVID-19 has opened the doors for the use of various technologies to conduct virtual meetings, which are as effective as face-to-face meetings. In the comfort of our offices or meeting rooms, we held meetings virtually with people in various parts of the country and the globe in a matter of minutes or few hours. This has become one of the new normal of the COVID-19 era and we must embrace it to become more productive in the conduct of our businesses.
Notwithstanding the difficulties that confronted us this year, the GLICO group was able to collectively achieve an appreciable percentage of the targets set for the year. I am hopeful, with budgets and strategic plans presented by the subsidiary companies for 2021, we shall all challenge ourselves to record 100% of our targets.
It is expected that the year 2021 shall bring about significant changes in insurance operations in the country. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, a new Insurance Act would come into force to change the regulatory environment. This would require us to adjust our operations to remain compliant and also fully exploit the opportunities the new Insurance Act would afford us.
In addition to the advent of a new Insurance Act, the year 2021 would also be the deadline year for all insurance companies to recapitalize. We definitely anticipate the influx of more foreign companies in the industry through direct acquisition or investment in the operations of some of our competitors and also mergers of other existing competitors. New capital injection in the operations of our competitors would certainly raise the bar and as leading indigenous companies, we have to redouble our efforts to stay competitive and recover all lost grounds.
In spite of the anticipated changes and the lingering effects of COVID-19, I believe 2021 shall be an exciting year for GLICO. We have prepared well with our strategies and structures to set sail and reach our targets taking advantage of all the opportunities that shall come our way.
We shall remain a customer-centric company because our customers remain our major asset. We would have to embrace innovation and find new ways of providing more delightful services for our customers and meeting new customer needs with highly innovative products. Let us synergize our efforts and work in concert to achieve the goals of not only our individual subsidiary companies but those of the entire GLICO Group.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is the end of the year and one key expectation of staff when the year comes to a close is bonus payment. I am happy to announce that in line with our performance management policies, the various Boards will approve bonuses for their respective companies based on performance. We expect Management of the companies to work with their respective boards to ensure staff receive their bonuses on time to enjoy the Christmas season and new year with their families.
Unfortunately, in the course of the year, a number of staff departed to be with their Maker. We solemnly pray that the good Lord continue to grant them eternal rest and protect all other staff as we enter a new year.
On this note I wish you and your families a joyous, peaceful and restful festive season and all the best for the New Year 2021.
Dr. Kwame Achampong-Kyei
Executive Chairman, GLICO Group